Gretchen Whitmer Packs “Council on Climate Solutions” With Donors and Lobbyists
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has packed her “Council on Climate Solutions” with campaign donors and a major utility lobbyist and dark money group executive that boosted her 2018 campaign, a review of campaign finance records revealed.
Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-182 last September to create the board, which advises the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
“The science is clear, and message urgent: the earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, and human activities are largely responsible for this change,” the order said.
Members of the advisory board are tasked with creating the “MI Healthy Climate Plan,” which is to “serve as the action plan for this state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition toward economywide carbon neutrality.”
A review of appointed members and campaign finance records found 10 of the 21 members donated to Whitmer’s gubernatorial campaign:
- Kerry Duggan, founder and principal of SustainabiliD: $500
- James C. Harrison, director of renewable energy for Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO: $100
- Phyllis D. Meadows, senior fellow in health programming for The Kresge Foundation: $225
- Jonathan T. Overpeck, University of Michigan environmental professor: $155.98
- Phillip D. Roos, CEO of Great Lakes GrowthWorks, LLC: $2,300
- Justin Onwenu, organizer for Sierra Club: $31.15
- Charlotte Jameson, program director for Michigan Environmental Council: $50
- Douglas Jester, partner with 5 Lakes Energy: $10,500
- Charles J. Griffith, director of climate and energy program for the Ecology Center: $25
- Brandon Hofmeister, senior vice president of governmental, regulatory, and public affairs for Consumers Energy: $6,500
Hofmeister is a lobbyist for Consumers Energy, a leading energy company in the state, and vice president of a so-called dark money group known as Citizens for Energizing Michigan’s Economy (CEME).
Over a four-year period beginning in 2014, Consumers Energy gave CEME $43.5 million to boost candidates favorable to the utility, according to a 2018 report from the Energy and Policy Institute.
CEME’s IRS filing showed it then gave $300,000 to Progressive Advocacy Trust, an organization that spent $2 million to help elect Whitmer.
Mlive reported Consumers Energy’s parent company, CMS, had a net income of $680 million in 2019.
In December, the Whitmer-appointed Michigan Public Service Commission approved a requested rate hike by Consumers Energy. Customers will now pay nearly 12 percent more per month, according to the Detroit News.
As of the last campaign finance filing, other board members listed by Fox 17, including W. Frank Beaver, Mary F. Draves, Marnese K. Jackson, Tanya Paslawski, Cynthia Render-Williams, Derrell E. Slaughter, Samuel Stolper, Ronald Voglewede, Cory Connolly, Steven Holty, and Lauren T. Cooper have not financially supported the governor’s campaign.
Among other things, board members are charged with, “Identifying and recommending opportunities for the development and effective implementation of emissions-reduction strategies.”
While some boards have a defined time limit on their existence, there is no sunset on the Council on Climate Solutions.